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Green brigade set for cakewalk

Irrespective of the problems they have been facing on various fronts, there is one thing that has always helped Pakistan stay afloat — an abundance of fast bowlers. Amol Karhadkar reports.
By Amol Karhadkar | Hindustan Times, Colombo
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2011 12:41 AM IST

Irrespective of the problems they have been facing on various fronts, there is one thing that has always helped Pakistan stay afloat — an abundance of fast bowlers.

No matter how many disappear after making a mark, the new ones just keep cropping up, day after day, year after year.

Probably that’s why Umar Gul has featured in just 82 ODIs during his international career that started almost eight years ago.

The lanky bowler would have been a certainty in any other international limited overs team.

To his credit, Gul has lived up to his promise whenever he has been given an opportunity.

Be it their World Twenty20 triumph in 2009 or their recent ODI series victory in New Zealand, Gul has made a huge impact with his death bowling.

Though the speedster from Peshawar is not expected to bowl late in the innings against Canada on Thursday as he and his colleagues are likely to finish things off pretty early, Gul's face widens when he is asked about the art of bowling at the death.

“I always bowl two spells in practice. First, I bowl with a new-ball. Then I bowl with a semi-new ball. That has been very useful,” Gul says. “And then when I learnt reverse-swing by watching videos of Waqar and Wasim, I realised that it’s not just about going out there and swinging an old ball. You need to learn how to do it well. You can say it's natural for Pakistani bowlers to know that art.”

Riding high on bowling along with Shoaib Akhtar, something that he “has loved all the time” and playing under Waqar Younis, who is the head coach, Gul says that Pakistan's performance is improving with every passing match.

Most of the credit has to be given to the bunch of seniors who have taken the responsibility of guiding the team over the line in the first two matches.

“Before the World Cup, all the senior players in the team, six or seven of us, sat together and decided that we have to put in a lot of effort and fulfil our responsibilities,” Gul says. “And also help out the junior players. Basically, we are role models for the juniors."

If Gul and his senior comrades can guide the team to the World Cup, they will emerge as role models not just for the juniors in their team but also for most of the newbies across the globe.


Misbah may be rested

Misbah-ul-Haq, who damaged his hamstring while batting against Sri Lanka on Saturday, might be rested against Canada on Thursday.

Though the MRI scan, conducted on Tuesday, did not reveal anything serious, the Pakistan team management isn't willing to risk the in-form batsman for one of the least important games in the group stage.

If Misbah is rested, Asad Shafiq will get his maiden outing in the tournament. Offie Saeed Ajmal, meanwhile, is set to replace injured left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman.

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